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Facts Behind Retooled Fiction

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Firm Bridges Gap Between Production House, Marketing Agency
BOSTON--Fiction may be something of a mystery on the local scene, but the recently renamed firm is looking to quickly establish itself and expand its base of advertising and production clients.
The shop launched in the mid-1980s as Rowntree & Co., specializing in graphic design, and was later known as Rowntree 3D, emphasizing its prowess with animation and interactive assignments. Of late, it has increased its efforts in the commercial and creative film production niche and rebranded itself Fiction.
"The trend is toward media convergence and designers now have the opportunity to express themselves and communicate with a bunch of different media," said Fiction president and founder Mark Rowntree, adding that the firm selected the name Fiction to depict itself as storytellers.
The firm strives for a "very sophisticated, European flavor that is definitely not Boston and not New York," said Kapil Kachru, a copywriter at the Boston shop.
This multicultural bent perhaps comes from the firm's own diverse employee base. Kachru is from India; creative/film director Thomas Heinelt is German; and another employee in charge of business partnerships is Russian.
"In an ideal world, we'd like to be producing and developing short films," said Kachru, but he added that Fiction plans to more aggressively pursue advertising accounts.
The eight-person shop recently finished a TV, print and Web campaign launching German high-tech firm Artificial Life. The effort focused on the company's industrial robot technology.
Other projects include an opener for Bravo Profiles, a Bravo Network show based on interviews with prominent film directors, artists and musicians. Fiction also concocted an identity package for Bravo's Counter Culture Wednesdays.
Fiction is in some ways similar to Smash Advertising, Boston, also a hybrid agency/production house. Smash claimed $3.1 million in revenue in 1999 and does broadcast promotion work. The shop just launched an effort for NBC Sports in which the Sydney Opera House's famous roof flaps are retouched to resemble a basketball.
The diverse business models favored by Fiction and Smash may not necessarily yield success in the long term, cautioned Burlington, Mass., consultant Bill Montbleau. "You really need a focus these days. You can't just hang a shingle up to say, 'We're in business to do whatever you need.'" K